Explaining A Career Break In Your CV


If you are returning to work after a break, explaining a gap in your CV can be difficult.  Employers or recruitment agencies could view you as out of touch with industry developments and current trends, or worry that you are no longer accustomed to the discipline of a 9 to 5 routine.  It is therefore essential that you make the right impression in your cover letter to secure you a place on the recruiter's shortlist. 

Read on for some helpful advice on how best to use your covering letter to explain a career break in your CV.

Why do you want to return to work?

It's very important that you explain clearly why you have not worked for a long period of time.  Your reasons could include the following:

  • you took time off to start and raise a family
  • you had a gap year following completion of further education and broadened your horizons by travelling
  • you took a sabbatical to undertake voluntary work or pursue a personal ambition

As well as explaining why you haven't worked, it's important to tell the recruiter why you want to resume work.  Make sure that you sound enthusiastic and committed in your desire to return to a long-term position.

New skills that you learned during your break

No matter what you were doing during your career break, you're bound to have gained some valuable new skills.  For example, as a parent you're now an expert in forward planning, time management and budgeting.  If you were travelling or volunteering abroad, you may have learned a new language or gained experience in communicating with people from diverse cultures.

Your ambitions for the future

Now that you've explained why you want to get back to work and pitched your valuable new skills, you need to put across what goals and ambitions you have for the future.  This will demonstrate to the recruiter that you are really committed to a long-term role and that you don't intend to have any further career breaks in the future.  Try to look beyond the position that you are applying for by asking about opportunities for career progression.

Highlight your ability to start immediately

One big advantage that you will have over your competitors is that you will not have to work a notice period before you are able to take on a new role.  Remember to point this out in your covering letter and also mention any flexibility you can offer, for example your willingness to work unsocial hours or weekends.

In conclusion

A cleverly-worded covering letter can really make your career break sound like an advantage, as well as presenting you as the perfect candidate by turning a potential negative into a positive.


22 March 2016

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